When business is as competitive as it is nowadays, companies appreciate that investing in good customer service is a wise decision as it will contribute to customer loyalty. Even if you offer the best price on the market, or if you sell a unique product, looking after your client base is essential as a poor reputation will ultimately cause your business great harm.

Claiming excellent after-sales and customer support has become widespread, but isn’t always backed up by best practices. So how can you ensure that your staff handles phone calls to standards which will set your company apart?

First of all, it cannot be said enough, invest in ongoing training for your agents. Nothing will have a more adverse effect on your company’s image than your staff being unable to resolve an issue, be it through lack of knowledge of your software, products, or procedures. Skilled agents will also be capable of handling different types of call and will be more productive, making the team more cost-effective, as well as providing your customers with a positive experience.

It is also crucial that you set SMART targets for your call-handling staff, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives. And to the risk of sounding obvious, make sure that these targets are communicated clearly to them, as well as how they can achieve them.

Answering 100% of the calls and ensuring that none are abandoned should be a key target. Identifying the different types of calls, their volume and priority levels is crucial in order to allocate the relevant number of staff to each, and will be especially essential if your call-handling team is small and resources are stretched.

To help your agents deal with enquiries more efficiently, providing them with a Top 10 of the most frequently asked questions in order of frequency will be an invaluable tool.

Investing in robust technology will also contribute to excellent customer service. Choose a call management software that you can set up so that calls can be redirected to other teams when you are experiencing high call volume. Having access to on-screen accurate and relevant information about the customer calling or being called will also be instrumental to your staff’s success.

Last, but not least, gathering feedback is the only real measure of how satisfied your customers are with your call-handling procedures, so do undertake regular surveys and fine-tune your practices as and when required.